Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

Even if you were born after Mr. Rogers passed away; you know who he is.

Kids today are more familiar with Daniel Tigers Neighborhood. (Is that even still on?)

I was one of those kids that grew up watching Mr. Rogers Neighborhood. As a child watching his show on PBS I really had no idea what I was watching. He seemed like just a nice soft spoken old man who walked into his living room, put on a comfy cardigan, a pair of sneakers and told the watchers a story through song. Then a trolly came through the living room and took the viewers to a place where puppets lived. Where there was a king in a castle, and a cat and owl who were seemingly neighbors in a tree.

I had no idea that Mr. Rogers was a minister. I had no idea that he was actually that nice in real life. I had no idea he was in fact not gay. I just truly had no idea what he was trying to say all those years I tuned in.

Something about Mr. Rogers has fascinated me recently. It took me much longer to watch the documentary that released in 2018, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?. Over Thanksgiving holiday my family and I went to Pittsburgh and there was a small display in a museum that held Mr. Rogers’ set and memorabilia. And of course, the gift shop held all the books that I wanted to buy and devour them all. But instead, I added the books to my notepad app on my phone and requested the books from the library.

I recently got my crack at my library’s copy of the book and it has been sitting on the end table of my living room. I was actually planning on returning the book this weekend but instead picked up Won’t You Be My Neighbor? from the Redbox.

I watched the documentary twice in the 12-hours I have had the DVD. I have decided to hold onto the book and read it. I was mesmerized by the documentary.

I found myself smiling and almost in tears.

In today’s world, it would be so suspicious to see someone being so nice. Especially if that person was an older man. An older man today being so nice to children would spark concern in parents. But no one thought twice about it when he first went on the air.

He was a true advocate for children. He truly believed the children were our future and we had to teach them. He believed every child truly was special. It broke my heart to see clips of news anchors blaming Mr. Rogers for the way kids grew up – thinking they were too special; that they were arrogant. I grew up watching Mr. Rogers and I think I grew up quite the opposite. It sadden me to see clips of comedians making fun of a Mr. Rogers… it just felt so wrong.

I can appreciate this man so much as an adult. I can appreciate the lessons he was trying to teach the world, not just the children.

At the time of writing this, I can only attest to the documentary and I would highly recommend it. Even my kids who only really know of Mr. Rogers, and who hate documentaries, enjoyed it.


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